The next 50 years of change will be equivalent to the changes we have seen in the past 400 years. Structural concrete building members continue to increase in span with reduced thickness. This trend is reinforced by increases in material properties such as compressive and tensile strength. Castable materials will have sufficient tensile and compressive properties, eliminating separate reinforcement. Concrete components will be more efficient and be much thinner leading to greatly reduced dead load of structures. Volumes of materials by use will be greatly reduced. Concrete will be a very green material reducing effects on the environment, mostly driven by the reduced volumes needed to build. And with lighter and fewer infrastructure projects, labor demands for construction will be reduced.

The green movement will be the most important factor when constructing a new facility, driven by a society with values completely different than those of the baby boomer generation.

The materialistic values of society will change dramatically, reducing demand for possessions. Our new-found wealth from reduced world energy costs, infrastructure, and consumerism will allow for focused spending on rebuilding a more compatibly built environment upon this planet. Recycling will be a big activity.

—Peter H. Emmons

Read more prognostications by industry leaders on the next 50 years of concrete.